Novel therapeutics for diabetic micro- and macrovascular complications

Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(15):1777-88. doi: 10.2174/092986706777452515.


Diabetic patients have a two- to four-fold increased risk for the development of microvascular (renal, neuronal and retinal) and macrovascular complications. Unfortunately, these complications may develop in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients even with careful glycaemic, blood pressure and lipid control. With the worldwide increase in the incidence diabetes, new strategies to prevent the complications are urgently needed. Mediators of vascular damage of diabetes include poor glycemic control, lipoprotein abnormalities, hypertension, oxidative stress, inflammation and advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which are modified proteins formed by non-enzymatic glycation. AGEs are resistant to enzymatic degradation and therefore very stable, thus their accumulation continues throughout aging. AGE accumulation causes arterial stiffening in the vessel wall, glomerulosclerosis in the kidney, and vascular hyperpermeability in the retina. Through their interaction with their putative receptor the so-called receptor for AGEs (RAGE), AGEs activate endothelial cells and macrophages, generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), induce overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and quench nitric oxide (NO). The pharmacological treatment currently available for either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic patients does not directly address the excess accumulation of AGEs. Novel compounds that inhibit AGE formation, cleave AGE cross-links or reverse their interaction with RAGE are now accessible and could prove useful in meeting this challenge. Other strategies such as inhibition of the hexosamine pathway, vitamin therapy to reduce oxidation and AGE accumulation, reduction of the ROS, or blocking the actions of growth factors or intracellular messengers of cell differentiation are also currently under research. This review will recount recent advances in the development of therapeutic approaches for inhibiting and treating the development of diabetic end-organ damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / prevention & control*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Humans


  • Glycation End Products, Advanced